Planning a vacation? You’ve got company: Americans are traveling in record numbers this summer after more than two years of pandemic restrictions.
Travel abroad is booming now that the U.S. government no longer requires citizens to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or of recent recovery from COVID-19 in order to fly home, per the current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But with COVID-19 surging in many parts of the United States and the rest of the world, it pays to strategize about what to do if you get sick while you’re away.
Sure, having a backup plan won’t dispel the disappointment of a vacation disrupted by the virus. But at least it will make things a little less stressful, not to mention safer.
So, what can you do? We consulted with infectious diseases specialists and other sources to get their advice.
Note: No matter where you’re going, make sure you’re up to date on your vaccines and boosters — and pack a few COVID-19 testing kits and N95 masks in your luggage, just in case.
1. Get Updated on COVID-Related Rules at Your Destination Before You Travel
If you’re traveling internationally, visit the U.S. State Department site or Borderless for the current COVID-related travel protocols for testing, vaccination, and quarantining for each country.
You’ll definitely want a heads-up about what a positive test result might entail. “Check the details before you travel in case you are going to a place where a positive COVID test might mean confinement in a government-mandated hotel, dormitory, or hospital,” says Michael Blaivas, MD, chief medical officer at Anavasi Diagnostics and emergency department physician at St. Francis Hospital in Columbus, Georgia.
Hong Kong, for example, is currently enforcing post-arrival testing and mandatory quarantines in designated hotels for positive cases. Visitors to Canada must submit travel plans to the government three days before arrival, and depending on vaccine status they may be subject to mandatory testing and quarantine protocols.
Venturing to a destination within the United States? Find out the current level of community transmission there, to assess your chance of contracting COVID-19 while visiting.
2. Look Into Airline Change or Cancellation Policies and Travel Insurance
Before you pay for your flight, find out if your airline will let you change your departure or return plans penalty-free, in case you or a family member tests positive for COVID-19 before or during the trip.
Look into adding a travel insurance policy that covers COVID-related changes or cancellations. Many of these policies now treat COVID-19 like any other medical emergency — if you’re sick and get a doctor’s note you can change your flights or hotel reservations with minimal or no penalties.
Be sure you read the fine print (including state-by-state restrictions) …….